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Meet The Democratic Primary Candidates For House District 9

Two women are pictured side by side.
Allison Tant, Arnitta Grice-Walker
Allison Tant (left) and Arnitta Grice-Walker (right) are running for the Democratic candidates for House District Nine.

Two Democrats are competing in the primary for House District nine. The seat currently held by Loranne Ausley includes downtown Tallahassee and a large portion of Leon County.

Allison Tant and Arnitta Grice-Walker are facing off in the 2020 Democratic primary for District nine. Incumbent Democrat Loranne Ausley is leaving the seat open to run for a state Senate spot.

Allison Tant is no stranger to politics. She is a former chair of the Florida Democratic party. After her son was diagnosed with a cognitive disability, she also became a disability rights advocate.

"Seeing the struggles that they have and having little to no resources, no one who understands the difficulties they have. No one who understands how the safety net doesn't work, that's supposed to be there for people who cannot provide for themselves. I feel like I had to step in and do this," Tant says.

She explains one of her key priorities if elected is making sure dollars for human services are going to those services:

"In a time when I know dollars are going to be scarce with COVID recovery, that the dollars are allocated are going into the places they're supposed to be and that they are being spent the way they're supposed to be to support human beings in need and not a CEO for the third or fourth house."

Tant says she also wants to help Floridians bounce back from disasters—like the current pandemic.

"Prime among that is going to be the unemployment compensation situation and what's happening to Floridians when they are being left to fend for themselves at a time of huge need," Tant says.

Arnitta Grice-Walker promotes herself as a long-time educator, but her history in that profession has been turbulent. In 2016, she faced accusations of striking a kindergarten student and pulling another student out of her chair with her jacket's hood. Grice-Walker signed a settlement agreement with the Department of Education that included suspending her license for a year, two years probation, a $750 fine, and requiring her to take a college-level course in classroom management. But under the settlement, Grice-Walker was not required to confirm the allegations. She says what happened got blown out of proportion:

"When you're working with little children just like my daughters and things if I didn't give them what they wanted, they would tell me they were going to their daddy. 'I'm going to tell my daddy on you.' So when you have a situation like that, and it's blown out of the waters, what do you do? I mean, a child is a child; a young child is a young child. If I tell you can't have something and you get upset with me, and you can say anything but you didn't really know what you were doing. So after they did their investigation, there [were] no findings."

Grice-Walker says she can provide a new voice that's needed in the community:

"I've always been an advocate of returning the Amway train system back to Tallahassee."

Grice-Walker says she'd like to re-establish Amtrak's passenger rail service in Tallahassee. That service has been discontinued since Hurricane Katrina.

"It would give us an opportunity to increase our economy," Grice-Walker says.

Grice-Walker wants to convert old buildings in Tallahassee to house people who are homeless or offer those locations as alternatives to small businesses that can't afford to set up in better areas. She also supports raising the minimum wage to $20-$25 an hour.

"Those are some of the things that I'd like to do and in this pandemic right now, at the forefront is our educational system as well as our healthcare so that I'm very concerned about," Grice-Walker says.

Early voting for the primary ends August 16 in Leon County. Election Day for the primary is August 18. The Democratic victor for House District nine will face Republican candidate Jim Kallinger in November.

Robbie Gaffney graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Animal Crossing, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.